A charming fable about modern life that has touched the hearts of more than two million readers worldwide. Hector’s journey around the world and into the human soul is entertaining, empowering, and smile inducing—as winning in its optimism as it is powerful in its insight and reassuring in its simplicity.
Hector is psychiatrist who treats a lot of patients who are unhappy, but often times for no real reason. Listening to them tell of their dissatisfaction with life because they do not have as much as others seems to starts to get to Hector so he goes on a trip around the world to research what makes people happy. He makes a list of what he finds that makes people happy. Early on in his trip he visits a monk. After they talk the monk tells him to come back when he has finished his trip and figured out happiness. Along the way Hector meets friends he knows in other countries and also befriends some new people.
While talking to friends and strangers about happiness, he sees that often times comparing ones self to others brings about unhappiness. He has friend in Japan who is obsessed with earning 6 million dollars, who works long hours every day and drinks too much, but is always worried that other people are ahead of him. At the same time there are women who meet on the street outside of their restaurant who are talking and laughing and enjoying themselves. They are women who have come from poorer villages to clean the offices in the city, but on Sunday they do not work and do not have the extra money to go somewhere, so they set up oilcloths on the sides of the street and gather to talk and enjoy one anothers company. These women have so much less than the businessman, but they have friend and family and time to be happy.
In California he meets a scientist who has created a machine which can measure happiness in people's brains based on what they are doing or thinking about. He sees that his list of attributes for happiness align with a number of studies done by medical professionals. But it turns out the smart scientist is still unhappy because the woman he has feelings for has feelings for someone else.
Happiness is feeling useful, belonging to a family, not comparing oneself to others and having a tie to a religious group among many other factors. What Hector discovers during his travels is that he really does love his girlfriend and that he is ready to make more of a commitment to her.
Happiness is such a hard thing to measure that I thought this book would be interesting to read. It was short and it was simple, but at times it was almost too simple. I would have liked the author to have just said some of the passages instead of meandering around them. I saw that there is to be or is already a sequel to this book, but I am not sure I will be in a hurry to find and read it. I did not dislike this one, but it didn't grab me the way I thought it would.
Pub. Date: August 2010
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Format: Paperback , 192pp